The U.S. Senate has released a draft of its FY23 appropriations package with subcommittee breakdowns, and it includes some important gains for the Social Security Administration.
NOSSCR was pleased to see increased funding for the Limitation on Administrative Expenses. However, the proposed funding levels are lower than those in the U.S. House of Representatives’ funding bill, which would make it more difficult for the agency to reach its goals of improving and enhancing service delivery to the public.
As expected, the Senate Appropriation Committee’s initial funding proposal is far different than the bill recently passed by the House Appropriations Committee. It is highly likely – almost guaranteed – that Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond the end of its fiscal year on September 30th. The only uncertainty is how long the CR will last, with many people expecting it to extend beyond the November elections.
Beyond the budget numbers, the Senate report contained supportive language directly related to NOSSCR priorities. Below is a summary on several elements that were included in the bill. A more thorough review will be included in the August Forum.
Disability Claims and Hearings Backlog
The bill provides a $120M increase for Disability Determination Services. This new funding would allow the agency to hire additional staff which, in turn, would result in the processing of approximately 200,000 more initial disability claims than they’re able to complete this year. It would also provide funding for “targeted investments in IT systems” as well as additional staff “in field offices, hearing offices, and teleservice centers.”
The Appropriations subcommittee responsible for overseeing the Social Security Administration – the Labor-HHS subcommittee – directed the agency to provide monthly reports on key performance metrics including those related to initial disability claims, reconsideration and hearings.
Expanding Outreach to People with Disabilities
The Senate report makes it clear that Appropriations Committee members are very interested in seeing the agency expand its outreach to “potential beneficiaries, prioritizing underserved communities and individuals most likely to need support.” The report suggests this could be done by providing grants to “community-based organizations.”
The committee commended the agency for the “innovative service delivery improvements” it has implemented during COVID and expressed interest in knowing more about the progress in expanding “Express Services” across the country.
SSI Application Simplification
The report included language asking the agency to propose ways to simplify the SSI application process. The committee was interested in potential regulatory and legislative changes that could be made to benefit those interested in filing for SSI benefits.